Biplane fighter aces

Soviet Union

Major Ivan Petrovich Grachev HSU

5 January 1915 - 14 September 1944

Ivan Grachev was born in Frolovo, in the Ryazan region, on 5 January 1915.

He joined the army in 1936 and attended the Kacha Military Air College. He graduated as a pilot in 1939, just in time to take part in the Soviet-Finnish Winter War flying Polikarpov I-153s with the 26 IAP.

He claimed his first victory during this war when he in December claimed a shared enemy aircraft together with P. Mikhlyuk.

When Germany attacked Soviet in June 1941, he served with the 191 IAP in the Leningrad area. This regiment was at the time equipped with a mixture of I-16s and I-153s.

On 19 July, he was shot down in an I-153 but survived.

In August 1941, the unit was re-equipped with MiG-3s and he was to gain a number of successes in this type.

He claimed a Bf 109 on 27 August.

On 29 August, he claimed a Junkers bomber.

On 11 September, five I-16 pilots of 191 IAP/7 IAK claimed a major success during a combat with Ju 87s south of Leningrad, reporting nine Stukas shot down, including two each by mladshiy leitenants Yegor Novikov, Grachev and Vladimir Plavskiy, and one by leitenant Nikolay Kuznetsov.
Only one of these claims can be verified with German loss lists.

He claimed a Messerschmitt on 23 September.

On 16 January 1942, he was decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin. On the same day, he was also promoted to lead his eskadrilya.

In April 1942, he was wounded and hospitalized.

When he recovered, he joined the 28 GIAP on the North West Front, where he in March 1943 claimed his 21st victory.

On 5 March 1943, he claimed two FW 190s while flying an Airacobra.

In the spring of 1944, he was promoted to major, leading the 68 GIAP on the 1st Baltic Front. By September, the unit was operating over East Prussia.

On 14 September, major Grachev took off on his 202nd sortie in the Riga area, and was seen to shoot down two He 111s. The Airacobras from 68 GIAP was then engaged in combat with FW 190s in the Rumbula area. Major Grachev rammed one of them over Rumbula and was killed. Fedor Milayev (3./68 GIAP) claimed a second over Rumbula while a third was claimed by Nikolay Magerin south-west of Rumbula.
Grachev is buried in Liyepaya, Latvia.

At the time of his death, Grachev was credited with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of 18. These were claimed on 202 sorties.
During his career, he had also been decorated with the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of the Red Star.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  ?/12/39   ½ Enemy aircraft Shared destroyed I-153   Finland 26 IAP
? 27/08/41   1 Bf 109 Destroyed MiG-3     191 IAP
? 29/08/41   1 Junkers bomber Destroyed MiG-3     191 IAP
? 11/09/41   1 Ju 87 (a) Destroyed I-16   S Leningrad 191 IAP
? 11/09/41   1 Ju 87 (a) Destroyed I-16   S Leningrad 191 IAP
? 23/09/41   1 Messerschmitt Destroyed MiG-3     191 IAP
? 05/03/43   1 FW 190 Destroyed Airacobra     28 GIAP
? 05/03/43   1 FW 190 Destroyed Airacobra     28 GIAP
16 14/09/44   1 He 111 Destroyed Airacobra   Riga area 68 GIAP
17 14/09/44   1 He 111 Destroyed Airacobra   Riga area 68 GIAP
18 14/09/44   1 FW 190 (b) Destroyed Airacobra   Rumbula 68 GIAP

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 18 and 9 shared destroyed.
(a) 191 IAP claimed nine Ju 87s but it seems that in fact only 1 was lost.
(b) Claimed in a "taran" ramming attack.

Barbarossa – The Air Battle: July-December 1941 – Christer Bergström, 2007, Chevron Publishing Limited, ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2
Stalin's Falcons - Tomas Polak and Christhoper Shores, 1999 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-01-2
Additional information kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.

Last modified 06 April 2021